When you look in the mirror what do you see? Do you focus on any flaws? Or do you see how beautiful and unique your face is? When you look at an old photo, do you think… “I wish I could have freeze framed my life at that point?” Or, do you look at that photo and think how fortunate you are that you have grown into your own authenticity, that all the experiences you have had since have molded you into who you truly are?

Growing up a member of Generation X I have observed how baby boomers have broken through old belief systems about what aging is. Many of them are choosing to live younger lives through healthier alternatives to western medicine. I have also observed millennials and even the younger members of Generation Z during a time of massive expansion in the cosmetic industries. Recent reports by the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery state that Americans have spent over 16 billion on plastic surgery in 2016 and were injected with toxins over 6 million times in 2018 alone. They are seemingly using these techniques such as plastic surgery, toxic injections and fillers without a second thought and at ever-increasing rates.

Self-esteem is a gift of a lifetime, but few of us are fortunate enough to have received it. Often it is a gift half given as we find ourselves still working on our self-love throughout our lifetime. From our earliest years many of us have been teased about our looks or told from our mothers to fix our hair and make ourselves presentable etc. before heading out the front door into the world. Many more of us have had it much worse. This has made us feel like we have to fix our ‘imperfections’ instead of recognizing that they are what makes us, us! We are now surrounded with so many toxic ‘quick fixes’ and pressure to take advantage of them, that we feel if we can get our hands on them we will finally be beautiful and accepted. If we don’t, will we be good enough to be loved? will you be good enough?

 The pressures of society to look unattainably perfect are everywhere. In our social media outlets no one really posts themselves after a sleepless night. Seeing post after post of ‘filtered’ life, begs many to ask the questions should I look like that? Can I look like that? Should I undergo a possibly unnatural and harmful procedure to try and look like that? Don’t even get me started on ‘selfie’ dysmorphia, which blurs the line between fantasy and reality and will be discussed in another article.

As a woman who has had Facial Renewal Acupuncture for over 15 years I can proudly say when I look in the mirror I see a happy face that has some imperfections, but a face that is uniquely mine. A face that shows spirit, and eyes that shine bright and glisten with what we call in Traditional Chinese Medicine, shen.

Before you feel the pressure to inject toxic substances into your face or undergo a potentially harmful procedure that will lead you away from your shen, consider that every time we frown, smile, squint, or clench our jaw, we are communicating a part of us. If we succumb to peer pressure and start down the false and unnatural path to look ‘forever young’, how much of our authentic self do we sacrifice?

Our facial muscles are the expressive muscles. We use them to convey thoughts and emotion. It is a natural part of being human and feeling whatever we feel in each moment. These muscles are given signals from our brain, and then we make those expressions. They are not superficial, but instead come from the deepest part of who we are, our spirit. A study conducted by Tanya L Chartrand, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University Fuqua School of Business in North Carolina with David T Neal from the University of Southern California found that Botox impairs our ability to relate to others. This is due to the fact that Botox interferes with what she calls ‘embodied cognition’. This means the way we understand others’ emotions is to experience those emotions ourselves through facial micro-mimicry. If your muscles cannot move, your brain is not being sent the correct signals, and interferes with the emotion being conveyed. This is where these ‘superficial’ treatments can run deep. It seems ironic that by trying to fix our ‘imperfections’ through unnatural procedures in order to be loved, we can in fact cripple our ability to understand, empathize, and communicate with those that we care most for.

Edited by:

Mary Elizabeth Wakefield, author of the book, Constitutional Facial Acupuncture (Churchill Livingstone Elsevier, 2014) is internationally acknowledged as the leading authority on facial acupuncture. An author and teacher, she is a practitioner who has created innovative treatment protocols that emphasize a constitutional approach to this modality.

MichelAngelo, is a co-author, with sound healing pioneer Donna Carey, co-creator of the Acutonics® sound healing system, of the ground-breaking advanced level treatise, From Galaxies to Cells: Planetary Science, Harmony and Medicine, to which he contributed information on the musical components of the Acutonics® system, as well extensive information on planetary archetypes and classical music.